Summary: An evangelist sermon asking what happens when we get to the point in our journey when we realize we are missing out.
The Great Journey
Do you ever feel like there really must be more to life than what you’re experiencing presently?
Last year my wife and I took a weekend to go camping in the Kananaskis country west of Calgary. Now, being an athlete, Joanne was looking forward to some strenuous hiking - the kind of day-long, sweat producing, heart pounding, mountain-conquering activity that would reward one with a breath-taking view from the top of some mountain peak. And so we chose a hike that I had done as a teenager - that had been incredibly strenuous but very rewarding. We decided to hike MOUNT INDEFATIGABLE.
Like most trails, it begins in the trees - fairly steady climb but not much to see except the trees and the flowers that dot the forest floor. Soon, we broke through on to the edge of the ridge that the path follows up the side of the mountain for most of the rest of the way - at a very steep incline. Luckily for me, Joanne didn’t mind me taking frequent breaks to rest my legs and catch my breath (like every 30 seconds!). But the view was already something special - a broad mountain range across the other side of the Kananaskis valley, a steady view of the long Lower Kananaskis lake, and the occasional glimpse of the Upper Kananaskis Lake when the trail curved around the right direction. And so we hiked along (me usually at least ten paces behind my athlete-wife), enjoying the view and working towards the end of the trail.
When we hit the snow, I was a little disappointed - I’d hoped to finish the trail - but considering the fact that I was exhausted... it could have been worse! That’s when Joanne turned around and said "come on - it’s not too deep!" and plunged further up the trail. Not to be outdone by my wife (which I’m sure will some day be the death of me!), I smiled cheerily and followed along.
Eventually, we reached the end of the trail, and were disappointed with the conclusion. The view from the path had been better, and besides, we were only about half-way up the mountain. Well, I’m prepared to live with the disappointment - I was exhausted half an hour ago!. However, I can tell that Joanne would really like to carry on and conquer this particular challenge... As I said, I’m not going to be outdone by my wife (after all, we’d only be married for 8 months and I’m still trying to impress her!), and so: "off-trail scramble". Just head for the top!
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain. I’ve always dreamed about what it would be like to stand on top of one of those rocky crags - higher than anything around, gazing lazily down at the majestic landscape beneath me, feeling like an explorer and conqueror and rugged mountain man. And so we climbed.
At first it wasn’t too bad - as long as I could take a breather every two or three steps. But soon we were out on the grassy side - with no trees or large bushes to hold on to - and only rocks straight ahead. Joanne keeps turning around and telling me that it is ok if I want to quit - we don’t have to go all the way if we don’t want to! But my frail masculine ego now has something to prove! I can do it!
When we hit the rocks I start to get scared. I don’t think I can do this! what if I slip? what if Joanne slips? what if... well, something bad happens and we get into trouble that I can’t fix? But my fearless wife presses on... now thirty paces ahead of me! One time she even told me that I could stop and wait for her and she would go to the top - and then come back down and meet me! The testosterone kicks in and I continue...
We finally reach the top. The last half-hour has been literally a scramble over loose rocks - often climbing straight up and over small ridges. We get to the top, the view is magnificent. The mountain ridge across the valley is now complemented by two more complete ridges - forming a triangle around us. Both lakes are clearly in view, along with a third (called "Hidden Lake") that we couldn’t see before: and honestly, all I want to do... is lie down and hug the ground. I’m terrified! What happened to the feeling of accomplishment? the exhilaration of standing on top of a mountain? the rugged mountain man? he’s afraid of heights. he’s afraid a gust of wind is going to blow him over the edge. he’s afraid, as he looks down the precipice, that he might not be able to get back down and a forestry helicopter is going to have to come and rescue him and he’ll be humiliated.